How Mattress Bugs Turned Springfield In opposition to Itself


An episode of The Simpsons brings a plague to Springfield and leads its citizens to turn on each other.

Springfield has faced a number of disasters over the three decades. The Simpsons were on the air, but Season 24, Pulpit Friction, plagues the city with two different biblical plagues. These plagues bring bed bugs and frogs to the city. The previous plague caused Reverend Lovejoy to leave the church temporarily, ultimately turning Springfield residents against one another.

“Pulpit Friction” opens up in a remarkable way, as its couch gag leads straight into the story. Homer buys a bed bug-infested couch from Brooklyn. After Bart and some school friends made a pillow fortress out of his pillows, the beetles soon spread to their families, who blame each other for the outbreak.

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This all culminates in a chaotic service as Reverend Lovejoy struggles to get the townspeople under control. He is quickly demoted by the pastor of the church installing Reverend Elijah Hooper, played by guest star Edward Norton. Hooper’s relaxed preaching style, pop-cultural references and his calm demeanor quickly convince the parishioners of the church, who are later freed from bed bug infestation thanks to pest control. The pastor also makes Homer a church deacon while Lovejoy gives up the church and starts selling hot tubs. While most of the city’s residents are happy with this change, Ned Flanders is not a fan of Hooper’s preaching style, and Bart misses the father-son time he had with Homer.

So Bart tries to team up with Flanders to get rid of Hooper, but as soon as he suggests the release of frogs on Springfield, Flanders turns them both over to the police. He and Milhouse help lure the frogs with bed bug carcasses, which eventually leads to the amphibians running over town in a comical manner, referring to both Frogger, Princess and The Frog. Hooper’s style of preaching fails to reassure city residents during this crisis, but Lovejoy enters church at the last minute and saves the day by preaching the frogs to sleep.

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“Pulpit Friction” manages to tie Homer, Bart, Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy’s plot to a religious theme while still making fun of contemporary Christianity. This episode also shows how quickly the city can turn against each other in times of crisis, which is always fun. Unfortunately, the episode’s subplot where Lisa and Marge are looking for the latter’s old wedding dress is a bit stale as it encourages typical gender roles without having any meaningful discussion. However, like all good Springfield-themed The Simpsons episodes, “Pulpit Friction” highlights the importance of the city’s recurring characters and finds ways to explore new concepts.

The Simpsons were created by Matt Gröning and stars Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria. New episodes will air on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / PT on Fox.

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About the author

Aaron Grech
(30 articles published)

Aaron Grech is a writer, cinephile, Nintendo gamer, music addict, and television nerd from Southern California. A graduate of the University of California at Riverside, Aaron has written for a variety of pop culture websites, reporting on entertainment news, providing food for thought and event reviews. When he’s not writing, reading, filming or twittering, Aaron enjoys playing Pokémon, Unter Uns, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Classic Metroid, Animal Crossing and Civilization 6. His favorite directors are Denis Villeneuve Alejandro Jodorowsky , John Singleton, the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott, and Guillermo Del Toro.

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